Equality and empowerment between men and women | 150 years of persistence and perseverance (5)
How has the group of individual voices calling for the defense of women’s rights transformed over time into growing global institutional movements calling for equality between men and women? And how was the United Nations able to establish its own organization for it, adopt its demands, and turn it into a mandatory work program for the countries of the world that includes all the details of men and women in the state, society and family in all aspects of life, in which women share literally everything with men, and by the force of law And the constitution? And how was this group able to lay the foundations for a program of work shared by many official and civil global institutions, with the aim of achieving it by 2030?
Under the slogan “Women of the world, unite”, the United Nations Organization for Women published on its website a report that includes the timeline of the main stations in the march of the movement to defend women’s rights and demand gender equality, and concluded with the phrase “Women, men, boys and girls and citizens of the world, unite.”
In order to be able to answer these questions, and come closer to understanding the intellectual foundations and motives behind the issue of gender equality and women’s empowerment, we need to trace the progress of this issue over nearly a century and a half, both at the official levels represented by the United Nations and the countries of the world, The civilian is represented in the activity of the women’s movement and its institutions.
Under the slogan “Women of the world, unite”, the United Nations Organization for Women published on its website a report that includes the timeline of the main stations in the march of the movement to defend women’s rights and demand gender equality, and concluded with the phrase “Women, men, boys and girls and citizens of the world, unite.” The following are the most prominent stations and information of this march, as presented by the report and other United Nations documents:
- The First Convention of Women’s Rights: In 1848, the first women’s rights conference in the United States was held in New York City, which demanded civil, social, political and religious rights for women, and the right to vote in particular.
- The launch of the feminist movement: The first documented use of the word “feminism” dates back to 1837 in France, a movement that defends women’s social, political, legal and economic rights on an equal basis with men. In the early 20th century, it was associated with women’s suffrage, but later evolved to focus on how women faced various forms of discrimination based on factors such as race, class, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation.
- New Zealand is the first country to allow women to vote: In 1873 32,000 New Zealand women signed a giant, 270-meter-long petition to Parliament demanding women’s suffrage, and soon after, New Zealand became the first self-governing country to allow women to vote.
- Dedicating an International Women’s Day: On March 8, 1911, more than a million people gathered in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland for the right of women to vote and work, and this date became the annual celebration of Women’s Day.
- The birth of the United Nations and the consolidation of gender equality: In 1945, after the devastation of World War II, the United Nations was formed to promote international cooperation, and stipulated in its Charter the enshrining of gender equality: “We the peoples … affirm the belief … in equal rights between men and women.” . In 1946 the Commission on the Status of Women became the first international institution dedicated exclusively to gender equality.
- Translation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was translated into more than 500 languages and dialects, and for the first time in human history the fundamental rights and fundamental freedoms to be enjoyed by all human beings, men and women alike, were clarified.
- The Decade of Women: The decade of the seventies of the last century is considered the decade of escalating global discourse on women’s rights, as it witnessed the first International Women’s Year 1975, the declaration of the first United Nations Decade for Women 1976-1985, and the first World Conference on Women in Mexico 1975.
- CEDAW: In 1979 the United Nations General Assembly introduced the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, known as CEDAW, which is the most comprehensive international instrument for the protection of women’s rights, and has been ratified by 189 countries. The Convention was adopted in 1979, and it legally obligates the signatory governments to end all forms of discrimination against women in public and private life, in order to achieve substantive equality between women and men, not only in laws, but also in practice.
- Decade of Activism for Women: The 1980s marked more than a century since the women’s suffrage movement began. By this decade, it was possible for women in much of the world to vote, and they still struggle to assume leadership positions today. The 1980s witnessed the holding of the second and third sessions of the World Conference on Women, in Copenhagen in 1980, and in Nairobi in 1985, all sessions adopting CEDAW.
- Additional treaties and conventions: The end of the 20th century witnessed the signing of a number of prominent treaties and the results of setting standards that changed women’s lives, including the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women in 1993, the first international instrument that explicitly addresses forms of violence against women, and the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development 1994, a 23-year plan of action that puts people and their rights at the center of development and recognized women’s sexual and reproductive health as key to the well-being of all, and the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a comprehensive framework adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women with a roadmap for action in 12 critical areas for advancement women’s rights.
- The Third Millennium: The third millennium witnessed an escalating continuation of regional and international activities related to achieving gender equality and empowering women, not only at the level of declarations, agreements and resolutions, but also on the speed of countries to download these resolutions, declarations and agreements on the ground in their systems, legislation and laws.
In 2000, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was issued as the first legal and political framework for the United Nations that links women and wars, recognizes that war affects women differently, and calls for women’s participation in conflict prevention and resolution.
In 2000, the United Nations Millennium Declaration was issued, which includes 8 time-bound goals unanimously adopted by world leaders to end poverty and disease, human rights and gender equality, over a period of 15 years. In 2015, the level of achievement and failure to achieve these goals was reviewed, and an alternative plan to transform the world was announced, called the Sustainable Development Goals, to be achieved by 2030. It includes 17 goals, including the fifth goal on equality and empowerment.
12. UN Establishes Organization for Women’s Affairs: In 2010 UN Women became the first UN agency to advocate exclusively for women’s rights, under the name “UN Women”.
13. The world’s governments pledge to fully achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women: In 2015, the governments of the Member States of the United Nations, in their adoption of the Political Declaration marking the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Beijing Declaration on Women, welcomed the progress made in this period, but they It also recognizes that no country has fully achieved the equality and empowerment of women and girls, that progress has been slow and uneven, that significant implementation gaps remain in the 12 areas of concern outlined in the Platform for Action and that new challenges have emerged for implementation in this area.
In response, governments pledge to take further action to ensure full, effective and expedited implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, including by:
- Strengthen the implementation of laws, policies, strategies and program activities for all women and girls.
- Consolidate and increase support for institutional mechanisms for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls at all levels.
- Changing discriminatory norms and gender stereotypes.
- Significantly increase investment to fill resource gaps.
- Strengthening accountability for the implementation of existing commitments.
- Promote capacity building, data collection, monitoring and evaluation.
Governments also pledged to achieve tangible results by 2020, and strive to achieve full gender equality and women’s empowerment by 2030.
14. 5 Million Participation in the Women’s March: In January 2017, about 5 million people around the world participated in the so-called “Women’s March” in solidarity with their rights.
15. Launching the Generations of Equality Forum: The Generation Equality Forum was launched in 2020, in partnership between UN Women, Mexico and France, and is held annually in Mexico and France on two different dates respectively, and focuses on youth, and commitments described as “revolutionary.” The Global Acceleration to Advance Gender Equality over 5 years to 2026, with financial support of $40 billion.
These accelerated and strenuous steps have achieved great progress in the field of gender equality and women’s empowerment, in parallel with the steps being taken by the feminist movement in all countries of the world, which sometimes precedes what is done by the United Nations.
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